Hundreds of rats, “some as big as cats”, have been running about outside the Hong Kong International Airport every night, eating food from rubbish bins, according to a report by Oriental Daily.

Rodents plague the taxi pick-up and drop-off area of the airport despite authorities’ effort to eliminate them. Pictures and a video posted on the newspaper’s website show rats running on the pavement and jumping in and out of blue rubbish bins with “HKIA” written on them.

airport rat problem
A rat on a sidewalk near the airport. Photo: Oriental Daily video screenshot.

Taxi drivers tend to throw left-over food into rubbish bins, which attract rats, a taxi driver who reported the problem to the Airport Authority was quoted as saying.

The report said cleaning contractors hired by the airport have left rodent poison in bushes in the area, but this has not been very effective.

airport rat problem
Two rats looking for food from a rubbish bin near outside the airport. Photo: Oriental Daily video screenshot.

HKFP has approached the Airport Authority for comment.

Update at 8pm Monday: In an email reply to HKFP, the Airport Authority said it has asked cleaning contractors to implement rat elimination measures including placing poisonous baits and traps, and that these measures have lessened the rat plague. It called on taxi drivers to stop littering in the area. 

“If taxi driver was discovered for littering at the taxi staging area, AA can refuse the concerned person for entering the taxi waiting area. AA will also work with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to prosecute littering offenders,” the Airport Authority said.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.